CLINTON, IOWA (February 3, 2005) - Jeff Barrie, producer of "Arctic Quest: A Search for Truth" and cross-country cyclist, will speak on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at noon in Collis Hall (Durgin Educational Center) at The Franciscan University of the Prairies in Clinton. Barrie's appearance in Clinton is being sponsored by the Alaska Coalition of Iowa.

In Barrie's words, "We're being told that the Arctic Refuge is a solution to our dependence on foreign oil, but in fact it's merely a speculative six month supply of oil that won't be available for ten years and will require destroying one of our nation's last truly great wilderness areas."

The 100-mile stretch of arctic coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the only fragment of the United States' total 1,100-mile arctic coastline not already open to oil and gas development. Now, oil industry officials are pushing for access to this fragile heartland of this last complete eco-system in North America. According to the United States Geological Survey, the most likely amount of oil to be found under the Arctic Refuge is roughly the same amount that the United States consumes in six months. Even at peak production, government experts estimate that the U.S. will still need to import a whopping two-thirds of all of its oil. Were oil and gas development to occur, the U.S. Department of Interior estimates up to a 40% loss (70,000 animals) to the Porcupine Caribou herd (129,000 animals).

"It is puzzling that people and the government would be willing to sacrifice a renewable resource, such as the herd, and the lives of the Gwich'in Indian people, who depend upon it, for merely the possibility of the short term benefits we could gain by extracting a small amount of petroleum, a non-renewable resource," Barrie said.

Barrie will be joined on this two-week tour of Nebraska and Iowa by Robert Thompson, an Inupiat Eskimo, who is a wilderness guide, specializing in winter excursions, river rafting, and kayaking in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He and Subhankar Banerjee traveled 4,000 miles within the refuge, over the course of 14 months in 2001 and 2002, documenting the area and its inhabitants through each change of season. Thompson and his wife, Jane Akootchook Thompson, live in Kaktovik, Alaska.

In his public presentations, Thompson shares his thoughtful views on the environment, development, and his worries about global warming.

During the past three years, despite tremendous pressure from special interests, a bi-partisan majority in the US Senate has twice voted with the will of the American people and rejected proposals to allow drilling in the calving grounds of the Arctic Refuge.

Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League said, " I must admit I was skeptical at first at the idea that a couple of people showing slides in church basements could compete with the sophisticated multi-pronged PR campaigns launched by a half a dozen of the world's largest oil companies. But I've become a believer since I've seen the results."

For more information about the program that is free and open to the public, please contact David Sharkey, Coordinator of Student Activities, at 563-242-4023, ext. 3511.

The Alaska Wilderness League has been helping to bring the message of protection for our Arctic costal plain all over the country during the past 11 years, and Jeff Barrie and Robert Thompson will be in Clinton on Tuesday, Feb. 8 and will be available for in-person or phone interviews by members of the press at various times during the period of January 31 through February 11.

For further information contact: Scott Hed, Alaska Coalition, 605-336-6738 Jeff Barrie, Last Great Wilderness Project, 615-438-5060.

(Rock Island, IL)?Royal Neighbors of America, headquartered in Rock Island, will expand its distribution in October 2006 with a new office in Austin, Texas. The Austin office will be responsible for offering life insurance and annuities through independent general agents and will be led by Mike Pinkham, a veteran insurance executive. This new sales operation represents an addition to the current captive sales force and will sell Royal Neighbors' products and services to new members, thus allowing the organization to continue to successfully carry out its social mission. Cynthia Tidwell, President and CEO of Royal Neighbors, said, "We are excited about the opening of this new office and having an executive with an impressive track record such as Mr. Pinkham join the Royal Neighbors family. It is a natural fit for us as we are looking to expand and grow our life insurance and annuity operations." Royal Neighbors of America offers its members value-added benefits such as scholarships, disaster aid, and a variety of volunteer opportunities within their communities. Distinguished by its 100-plus-year commitment to helping women help themselves, Royal Neighbors, through its insurance products and services, addresses a wide range of today's women's issues and concerns.
Headquartered in Rock Island, Royal Neighbors serves more than 232,000 insurance certificate holders and members, and is licensed to do business in 41 states and the District of Columbia. With $2.2 billion of insurance in force, it has members in 400 active chapters across the nation.

Davenport, IA - On Tuesday, May 23rd at 6:45 PM, the Davenport Area SoundReach Choir, a community choir for adults with developmental disabilities, will hold its Spring Concert at All Saints Lutheran Church (5002 Jersey Ridge Road; Davenport, IA).

SoundReach highlights the talents and successes of area teens and adults with special needs through song and dance. Sponsored by West Music Company, SoundReach meets weekly to rehearse a variety of songs popular throughout the ages. From oldies to Green Day, this choir sings it all. The choir performs in front of a packed house of family and friends in the sanctuary of All Saints Lutheran Church at the end of several months of rehearsal. A unique experience is always promised to those who attend, and hardly a dry eye will remain at the end of the concert, as these individuals do what many people have told them they can't do.

The choir is co-directed by Emilia Martin, MT-BC and Lorna Johnson, MT-BC, both music therapists for West Music Company. The directors work with the choir to create a successful experience for each member. Whether members can sing perfectly on pitch, dance to the music, or simply play an adaptive instrument, there's room for everyone in SoundReach.

Admission is free!

West Music Company Contact: Emilia Martin or Lorna Johnson (563) 388-1519 All Saints Lutheran Church Contact: Al Reagan (563) 332-9870